SEO is about more than keywords and title tags. Adding high-quality links to your posts and pages is just as important.
But unlike keywords, you can’t build them alone. You need a site willing to post your link.
What are backlinks, and how can you build them? Keep reading for our complete guide.
What Are Backlinks?
A backlink itself is simple. It is a link on one website to another website.
You probably see them everywhere. Your favorite blogger adds links to their old posts to each site. News articles contain relevant backlinks within each story to provide more information. The white paper you read yesterday contained backlinks to the statistics shared in the text.
Why Are Links Important for SEO?
Search engines use links to discover web pages and identify where a page should rank (according to its algorithm). No one knows how much weight the algorithms give to backlinks, but we do know that they are vital, particularly to Google.
After all, it was Larry Page (a Google founder) who also invented PageRank. PageRank is a tool used to measure page quality based on the number of other pages that refer back to it.
Backlinks build authority for your site and the sites you link. It’s sort of like you vouch for each other’s reputations.
When you have backlinks to your site, it gives Google spiders a chance to discover you. When you have more backlinks, then you have not only more options for discovery, but you also build authority.
Google loves backlinks because they lead to faster indexing, which benefits both Google and your site. After all, Google wants to be the ultimate internet navigator, so if you have a fantastic website, it doesn’t want to miss out.
How Do You Build Backlinks?
Backlinks are essential for getting your site off the ground. But how do you get your links on other people’s sites?
The answer is astonishingly simple: you ask.
Asking is the most straightforward way to get new links on sites that you feel are strategic. And when it happens, it’s like magic. It’s almost effortless and delivers results for both of you.
Unfortunately, even keen link builders can’t guarantee success with this route 100 percent of the time. So, there are a few more strategies to use to help get your links out there.
The Broken-Link Method
The broken-link method isn’t dissimilar to asking for a link. It’s just less likely to get lost in a flood of emails.
When you use this method, you look for broken links on a site. You then report them to the site’s webmaster, and you recommend replacements (i.e., your website). You help the webmaster out by informing them of the SEO-killing broken link, and you are more likely to score your link.
This method requires plenty of research and trial and error. You want to stick with the websites most relevant to your link or niche.
Fortunately, it gets easier from here. Chrome users can use the Check my links plugin to quickly pull all the 404s from a site. The WordPress Link Checker plugin also does the same thing.
The Guest Article Method
Guest blogging is a great way to reach new audiences and build authority. You publish articles or posts on other websites and link back to your site. A short article earns you both SEO points and new customers.
The guest blogging method isn’t a hack. Even Google believes in it and accepts guests contributors on its blog.
How do you find a guest blogging gig?
Again, stick to your niche or your target keyword. Then, head over to Google and use search terms like:
- keyword + guest-posts
- keyword + contribute
- keyword + guest post by
- keyword + submit an article
- keyword + become a contributor
Social media is another way to find guest posts. But there’s no need to scroll all day. Set a keyword alert on Twitter or LinkedIn to automate the process.
The PR Method
The PR method involves placing links organically but not necessarily on websites within your niche.
You put your name out there and ask for little more than a link in return. For example, you can donate to a charity or sponsor and event and ask that they post your link on their site under your donation in return.
You can find charities willing to do this via Google. Just search keywords like “contributors page + donate + keyword” or “contributors + keyword.”
Another option is to contribute to a story. Help a journalist or content marketer out with your contribution, and they link to your site in a story. These are high authority backlinks and worth chasing down.
The Buying Backlinks Method
Buying backlinks is perhaps the simplest way to get backlinks quickly.
The jury is still out on whether it’s as effective to buy backlinks as it is to place them organically, but it often depends on your goals. Buying links saves time and gets faster results.
However, it’s also in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (see the Link schemes section). Google considers it an attempt to manipulate PageRank, and it doesn’t appreciate it. That means if Google catches you, the game is over and your SEO is now in the sewer.
If you decided to roll the dice, then you should know that only quality backlinks to real sites within your niche are worth it. And you should expect to pay handsomely for the privilege.
Keep in mind that SEO is a long-term game, no matter how you play. It may be more prudent to play according to Google’s rules and invest time in a quality SEO strategy.
Make Backlinks Your Priority
What are backlinks? They are the key to long-term SEO success.
Building backlinks is essential for site discovery, and there’s no end of ways to do it. The easiest way is to ask. Ask an authority site for a quick link. Contribute a guest post. Give an interview to a journalist. There’s no wrong way to build backlinks.
Are you ready to take your WordPress site to the next level? Don’t forget to check out our guide to SEO for WordPress websites on our blog.